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LAPD Officer to Be Honored for Pulling Man out of Burning Car in Christmas Miracle Rescue

Donald Thompson is scheduled to receive the "medal of valor," the department's highest honor.

Patch file photo.
Patch file photo.

Originally posted at 8:14 a.m. June 24, 2014. Edited with new details.

A Los Angeles police officer who pulled a 72-year- old man from a burning vehicle on Christmas day will be awarded the department's highest honor for heroism.

The Los Angeles Police Commission signed off on Police Chief Beck's recommendation to award Officer Donald Thompson the department's medal of valor, which is given out for acts of bravery.

Thompson "went above and beyond the call of duty in his efforts to remove the unconscious accident victim and save his life," Beck wrote in a memo to the Los Angeles Police Commission.

Thompson, a member of a bomb squad and an officer for 26 years, leaped over median dividers to get to the burning vehicle.

"The courageous and selfless actions of Officer Donald Thompson reflect the highest standards of the Los Angeles Police Department and the city of Los Angeles," Beck said. "His bravery, decisiveness and life-saving actions are undoubtedly deserving of the department's highest award for valor."

He will be honored along with other LAPD heros in the fall of 2015.

Thompson was driving to work in a bomb squad truck on the southbound San Diego (405) Freeway in Sherman Oaks about 2 p.m. when he saw a northbound Mercedes-Benz station wagon crash into the median and burst into flames.

Thompson ran to the driver, cut his seat belt to free him and, with help from two other people, pulled him from the vehicle unconscious as flames licked at the driver's compartment.

"Within moments, the entire vehicle was fully engulfed in flames as Officer Thompson and citizens remained with the driver," police said.

The man who was saved -- his name was not made public -- was later arrested by CHP on suspicion of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Thompson was treated for burns to his hands and a leg, as well as smoke inhalation and scrapes, police said.

--City News Service


The Beast ! June 24, 2014 at 05:41 PM
courageous !!!!!!!! well done officer
Carol Stull June 26, 2014 at 01:15 AM
On other hand, do you know how many cops got screwed out of a funeral day off? $hit, they come out of the woodwork from all parts to celebrate and grieve for someone they never met all at taxpayer expense. PD officers everywhere looking for a free lunch where ever they can find it.

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